Centre gears up for tussle with Gujarat over traffic penalties

first_imgThe Centre is gearing up for a tussle with the Gujarat government over the recently amended Motor Vehicles (MV) Amendment Act, 2019, which imposes steeper penalties for road traffic violations. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought the Law Ministry’s opinion on whether State governments can tweak the lower limit for fines prescribed in the law after Gujarat slashed some of the fines.In its notification, Gujarat has imposed fines below the lower limit prescribed in the MV Act and has also altered those fines it is not permitted to change under the Act. Road transport falls in the Concurrent List and, therefore, both Centre and States are allowed to legislate on the subject.The Gujarat government has imposed a fine of ₹500 for not wearing a seatbelt but the Centre has laid down ₹1,000 as the penalty, without providing a minimum or maximum limit. Similarly, Gujarat says there is no need to impose a penalty if a pillion rider is not wearing a helmet, and offenders will be required to pay only ₹100 as fine if there is more than one pillion rider, but the Centre requires a fine of ₹1,000 on the person driving the bike along with disqualification of licence for three months for both these violations.Concurrent List“The Constitution is clear on what happens when there is a dispute between a State and the Centre regarding a subject on the Concurrent List,” a senior official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said.Article 254 of the Constitution States that if there is a dispute between a State and the Centre on a provision of law on a matter that falls in the Concurrent List then the law made by the Centre will overrule the State.Also Read Uttarakhand followsUttarakhand too has slashed fines for compoundable offences by up to 50% and many States like West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra have threatened to follow suit. Mr. Tewari says that the compounding process often requires consultation and, therefore, the delay by States to notify the changes shouldn’t come as a surprise.  “Section 200 of the MV Act gives power to States to decide penalties for 24 Sections and State governments are currently amending those to rationalise what they feel might be relevant to them, but the law does give them power. But Gujarat is violating Article 254 of the Constitution by touching the non-compoundable offences. This entire change made by Gujarat will be thrown out of the court,” says Piyush Tewari of Save Life Foundation.Also readA complete list of new traffic violation fines under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019Mr. Tewari adds that Gujarat has in fact provided penalties which are lower than the 30-year-old MV Act of 1988. While the older law levied a fine of ₹1,000 for not wearing a helmet or seatbelt, using a phone and not carrying a licence, the latest notification by Gujarat provides for a fine of ₹500.Dangerous driving and driving on the wrong side of road fall under non-compoundable offences and carry a punishment of jail between six months to one year or fine of ₹1,000 to ₹5,000. But Gujarat has gone ahead and amended these and provided staggered penalties of ₹1,500 for three wheelers, ₹3,000 for light motor vehicles and ₹5,000 for bigger vehicles.Also Read Nitin Gadkari defends steep fines under Motor Vehicles Act Facing ₹11,000 fine, man sets bike afirelast_img

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